Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS5418380 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/226,461
Publication dateMay 23, 1995
Filing dateApr 12, 1994
Priority dateApr 12, 1994
Fee statusPaid
Also published asWO1995027932A1
Publication number08226461, 226461, US 5418380 A, US 5418380A, US-A-5418380, US5418380 A, US5418380A
InventorsDarren M. Simon, Steven A. Serati
Original AssigneeMartin Marietta Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Optical correlator using ferroelectric liquid crystal spatial light modulators and Fourier transform lenses
US 5418380 A
Abstract
An optical correlator uses ferroelectric liquid crystal spatial light modulators (FLC-SLM's) in both the reference and filter planes. The SLM's include an electrically addressable memory to store images in the form a two-dimensional array of reflective pixels beneath the FLC layer. The SLM's selectively rotate the polarization of the light reflected by each pixel in accordance with the stored image. In particular, a laser produces a polarized beam that is directed through a first polarizing beamsplitter and onto the reference SLM. This beamsplitter blocks unmodulated light reflected by the reference SLM and transmits modulated light through a set of Fourier tranform lenses. The resulting beam is directed through a second polarizing beam splitter onto a filter SLM that has been programmed with the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of a desired target image. Unmodulated light reflected from the filter SLM is blocked by the second polarizing beamsplitter and modulated light is reflected by the second polarizing beamsplitter through a set of inverse Fourier transform lenses. A CCD camera detects any correlation peak produced by the inverse Fourier transform lenses. A computer system downloads images to the SLM's and analyzes the correlation peaks detected by the camera. A half-wave plate can be included between both sets of SLM's and polarizing beamsplitters to allow manual adjustment of the polarization of the incident beam entering the SLM.
Images(3)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(17)
We claim:
1. An optical correlator comprising:
a laser for producing a beam of coherent polarized light;
a reference spatial light modulator (SLM) for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said reference SLM having:
(a) means for storing a reference image in the form of a two-dimensional array of pixels; and
(b) means for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said reference image;
a first polarizing beamsplitter for directing said laser beam onto said reference SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said reference SLM, said first beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said reference SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said reference SLM;
Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said first polarizing beamsplitter and producing a Fourier transform of said beam;
a filter SLM for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said filter SLM having:
(a) means for storing a filter image in the form of a two-dimensional array of pixels, said filter image being the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of a desired image; and
(b) means for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said filter image;
a second polarizing beamsplitter for directing said Fourier transform beam onto said filter SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said filter SLM, said second polarizing beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said filter SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said filter SLM;
inverse Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said second polarizing beamsplitter and producing an inverse Fourier transform of said beam; and
a camera for detecting any correlation peak produced by said inverse Fourier transform lenses.
2. The optical correlator of claim 1, wherein said reference SLM comprises an ferroelectric liquid crystal SLM.
3. The optical correlator of claim 1, wherein said SLM pixels are electrically addressable.
4. The optical correlator of claim 1, further comprising a polarizing filter between said inverse Fourier transform lenses and said camera.
5. The optical correlator of claim 1, further comprising a half-wave plate between said first polarizing beamsplitter and said reference SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of light entering said reference SLM.
6. The optical correlator of claim 1, further comprising a half-wave plate between said second polarizing beamsplitter and said filter SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of light entering said filter SLM.
7. The optical correlator of claim 1, further comprising a computer processor connected to said reference SLM and to said image SLM for downloading images to said SLM's.
8. The optical correlator of claim 1, wherein said Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said reference SLM and said filter SLM are at said focal planes of said Fourier transform lenses, and wherein said inverse Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said filter SLM and said camera are at said focal planes of said inverse transform lenses.
9. An optical correlator comprising:
a laser for producing a beam of coherent polarized light;
a reference spatial light modulator (SLM) for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said reference SLM having:
(a) means for storing a reference image in the form of a two-dimensional array of pixels;
(b) a ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) layer for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said reference image; and
(c) a reflective backplane beneath said FLC layer for reflecting said incident beam;
a first polarizing beamsplitter for directing said laser beam onto said reference SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said reference SLM, said first beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said reference SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said reference SLM;
Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said first polarizing beamsplitter and producing a Fourier transform of said beam;
a filter SLM for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said filter SLM having:
(a) means for storing a filter image in the form of a two-dimensional array of pixels, said filter image being the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of a desired image;
(b) a ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) layer for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said filter image; and
(c) a reflective backplane beneath said FLC layer for reflecting said incident beam;
a second polarizing beamsplitter for directing said Fourier transform beam onto said filter SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said filter SLM, said second polarizing beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said filter SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said filter SLM;
inverse Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said second polarizing beamsplitter and producing an inverse Fourier transform of said beam;
a CCD camera for detecting any correlation peak produced by said inverse Fourier transform lenses; and
a computer processor connected to said reference SLM and to said filter SLM for downloading images to said SLM's, and for analysis of correlation peaks detected by said CCD camera.
10. The optical correlator of claim 9 wherein said SLM pixels are electrically addressable by said computer processor.
11. The optical correlator of claim 9, further comprising a polarizing filter between said inverse Fourier transform lenses and said CCD camera.
12. The optical correlator of claim 9, further comprising a half-wave plate between said first polarized beamsplitter and said reference SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of light entering said reference SLM.
13. The optical correlator of claim 9, further comprising a half-wave plate between said second polarized beamsplitter and said filter SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of light entering said filter SLM.
14. The optical correlator of claim 9, wherein said Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said reference SLM and said filter SLM are at said focal planes of said Fourier transform lenses, and wherein said inverse Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said filter SLM and said camera are at said focal planes of said inverse transform lenses.
15. An optical correlator comprising:
a laser for producing a beam of coherent polarized light;
a reference spatial light modulator (SLM) for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said reference SLM having:
(a) an electrically addressable memory for storing a reference image in an array of pixels forming a reflective backplane; and
(b) a ferroelectric liquid crystal layer (FLC) for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said reference image;
a first polarizing beamsplitter for directing said laser beam onto said reference SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said reference SLM, said first beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said reference SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said reference SLM;
a first half-wave plate between said first polarized beamsplitter and said reference SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of said incident beam entering said reference SLM;
Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said first polarizing beamsplitter and producing a Fourier transform of said beam;
a filter SLM for modulating and reflecting an incident beam of light, said filter SLM having:
(a) an electrically addressable memory for storing a filter image in a two-dimensional array of pixels forming a reflective backplane, said filter image being the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of a desired image; and
(b) a ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) layer for selectively modulating said incident beam by rotating the polarization of said beam for selected pixels corresponding to said filter image;
a second polarizing beamsplitter for directing said Fourier transform beam onto said filter SLM and receiving said beam reflected from said filter SLM, said second polarizing beamsplitter being polarized to transmit modulated light reflected from said filter SLM and to block unmodulated light reflected from said filter SLM;
a second half-wave plate between said second polarized beamsplitter and said filter SLM for adjustably aligning the polarization of said incident beam entering said filter SLM;
inverse Fourier transform lenses for receiving said modulated light beam transmitted by said second polarizing beamsplitter and producing an inverse Fourier transform of said beam;
a CCD camera for detecting any correlation peak produced by said inverse Fourier transform lenses; and
a computer processor connected to said reference SLM and to said filter SLM for downloading images to said SLM's, and for analysis of correlation peaks detected by said CCD camera.
16. The optical correlator of claim 15, further comprising a polarizing filter between said inverse Fourier transform lenses and said CCD camera.
17. The optical correlator of claim 15, wherein said Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said reference SLM and said image SLM are at said focal planes of said Fourier transform lenses, and wherein said inverse Fourier transform lenses have two focal planes and said filter SLM and said CCD camera are at said focal planes of said inverse transform lenses.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of optical correlators. More specifically, the present invention discloses an optical correlator using ferroelectric liquid crystal spatial light modulators.

2. Statement of the Problem

Optical correlators were first suggested shortly after the advent of the laser in the early 1960's by A. Vander Lugt et al. at the University of Michigan. In early optical correlators, the input scene was introduced into the correlator by means of a photographic film transparency. The spatial filter was provided by means of a holographic film created by generating a hologram of the filter image's Fourier transform. Special care had to be taken to: (1) generate an acceptable spatial filter because of the generally large dynamic range of the Fourier transform; and (2) align the input scene's spectrum and filter encoded on the hologram. This special care translated into many hours of filter preparation and tedious mechanical alignment. However, once correlation was achieved, the classical Vander Lugt correlator did a good job of recognizing and locating patterns.

One major shortcoming of such simple matched spatial filtering is that the filter is extremely sensitive to differences between the object in the input scene and the object from which the filter is generated. If the difference is more than a few degrees of in-plane rotation or a few percent in scale, the focused points of light in the correlator quickly defocus and the intensity of the signal diminishes. Thus, a robust pattern recognition system for a dynamic application required a large number of filters for each input to cover the different potential orientations and scales of the target. This problem was magnified prior to the mid-1980's by the fact that the process of changing the filter meant replacing the piece of holographic film to within a few wavelengths of light. Thus, until recently, optical correlation was viewed as good physics, but was not practical for most pattern recognition applications in the field.

A key enabling technological development in recent years is the spatial light modulator, or SLM. SLM's can be thought of as programmable transparencies or pieces of film. The use of SLM's, instead of film, in an optical correlator allows the system to rapidly change the input scene and the spatial filter without mechanically moving or replacing pads, thus accommodating the multiple-filter requirement necessary for practical pattern recognition system. SLM's have different programming speeds and resolutions depending on the type of material and the technique used to encode the scene information on the SLM. The two types of SLM's that appear best suited for use in two-dimensional pattern recognition systems are the magneto-optic SLM (MOSLM) and the family of liquid crystal SLM's.

MOSLM devices are commercially available in pixel densities of up to 256256 and have been demonstrated to operate at over 2000 Hz in short bursts, with more practical operating frame rates of 500 Hz for a 128128 device and 100 Hz for a 256256 device. The modulating principle of the MOSLM is Faraday rotation of the polarization vector of the incident light as the light transmits through the MOSLM. The pixels are independently and electronically addressed and are capable of binary amplitude, binary phase, or ternary phase-amplitude (combination of binary amplitude and binary phase) modulation.

Liquid crystal technology has long been used for incoherent imaging in such applications as digital clocks, watches, and television displays. The majority of these devices use a nematic liquid crystal material that provides analog modulation, but is limited in switching speed. The most prominent nematic liquid crystal SLM for coherent imaging is the liquid crystal light valve, or LCLV. Unlike an MOSLM, an LCLV is optically addressed, rather than electrically addressed. This requires the LCLV to be programmed by another light source such as the illumination from a mini-CRT display. An LCLV uses the birefringence property of the crystalline structure and a controlled design thickness to achieve its modulation capability. The device has a maximum resolution of approximately 30 line pairs per millimeter, which equates to pixel densities on the order of 750750. It has a maximum operating speed of approximately 25 to 30 Hz with the ability for modulating approximately 10 to 15 linear gray levels.

A second type of liquid crystal SLM that has recently made significant advances in performance capabilities is the ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) used in the present invention. The basic performance differences between FLC SLM's and LCLV SLM's are their addressing capabilities and frame rates. FLC's can be either optically or electrically addressed, whereas LCLV's are only optically addressed. In addition, LCLV's operate at only approximately 30 Hz. Optically addressed FLC's have been operated at over 4500 Hz, and electrically addressed FLC's have been operated at approximately 10,000 Hz. The modulation principle of the FLC SLM is similar to the MOSLM in its operation (i.e., rotation of the modulator's optic axis), but the rotation is due to a reorientation of the liquid crystal molecules under an applied electric field instead of a Faraday effect. The FLC SLM is optically more efficient than the MOSLM since its axis rotation is 22 degrees versus a few degrees for the MOSLM.

A number of optical correlators and SLM's have been patented in the past, including the following:

______________________________________Inventor      U.S. Pat. No.                      Issue Date______________________________________Yu            4,695,973    Sept. 22, 1987Brooks        4,815,035    Mar. 21, 1989Javidi        4,832,447    May 23, 1989Moddel et al. 4,941,735    July 17, 1990Juday         5,029,220    July 2, 1991Marsh et al.  5,050,220    Sept. 17, 1991Johnson et al.         5,073,010    Dec. 17, 1991Capps         5,086,483    Feb. 4, 1992Liu et al.    5,150,228    Sept. 22, 1992Takesue et al.         5,150,229    Sept. 22, 1992Moddel        5,177,628    Jan. 5, 1993Moddel et al. 5,178,445    Jan. 12, 1993Stappaerts et al.         5,221,989    June 22, 1993______________________________________

Yu discloses a real-time programmable optical correlator that incorporates a magneto-optic spatial light modulator (MOSLM) and a liquid crystal light valve (LCLV).

Javidi discloses an optical correlator that employs a spatial modulator operating in a binary mode at the Fourier plane. The reference and input images are illuminated by a coherent light at the object plane of a Fourier transform lens system. An image detection device, such as a charge couple device (CCD) is placed at the Fourier plane of this Fourier transform lens system to detect the intensity of images. A thresholding network generates a binary output for each pixel of the Fourier transform interference intensity indicating whether the image intensity for that pixel is greater than the median intensity.

Juday discloses an optical correlator for real-time tracking of the position of the retina during laser eye surgery.

Capps discloses a hybrid optical/electronic processor in the general configuration of a Vander Lugt optical correlator with an input SLM 12, a first Fourier transform lens 16, a target SLM 14, a second Fourier transform lens 18, and an electronic processing array 20. The processing array 20 consists of a two-dimensional array of cells 40, each of which is connected to its nearest neighbors to facilitate peak detection.

Takesue et al. disclose an optical correlator that generates pictorial patterns of a sum of two patterns of pictorial information to be compared and of a difference between the two patterns by a phase conjugate wave form. The system then transforms the pictorial patterns into first Fourier transform images, generates a pictorial pattern of a difference between an intensity distribution of the first Fourier transform images by the phase conjugate wave form, and transforms the pictorial pattern of a difference between an intensity distribution of the first Fourier transform images into second Fourier transform images. The optical correlator detects a cross-correlation peak of the two patterns of pictorial information for comparison at a high signal-to-noise ratio.

Liu et al. disclose another example of an optical correlator using liquid crystal TV's (LCTV1 and LCTV2) to change the input and reference images in real time.

Marsh et al. disclose an optical correlator for fingerprint identification. Two spatial light modulators 28 and 32 are employed to input the unknown fingerprint and a sequence of reference fingerprints for comparison.

The patents to Johnson et al., Moddel, and Moddel et al. disclose several types of optically addressable spatial light modulators incorporating ferroelectric liquid crystals.

Brooks discloses an example of a scrolling spatial light modulator using an array of ferroelectric liquid crystal cells.

Stappaerts et al. disclose an example of a spatial light modulator using non-ferroelectric PLZT ceramic.

3. Solution to the Problem

None of the prior art references uncovered in the search show an optical correlator using electrically addressable FLC spatial light modulators in the present optical configuration. The optical design is compact and facilitates easier system alignment. The system offers real-time pattern recognition at high image rates and at high resolution.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides an optical correlator using ferroelectric liquid crystal spatial light modulators (FLC-SLM's) in both the reference and filter planes. The SLM's include an electrically addressable memory to store images in the form of a two-dimensional array of reflective pixels beneath the FLC layer. The SLM's selectively rotate the polarization of the light reflected by each pixel in accordance with the stored image. In particular, a laser produces a polarized beam that is directed through a first polarizing beamsplitter and onto the reference SLM. This beamsplitter blocks unmodulated light reflected by the reference SLM and transmits modulated light through a set of Fourier tranform lenses. The resulting beam is directed through a second polarizing beam splitter and onto a filter SLM that has been programmed with the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of a desired target image. Unmodulated light reflected from the filter SLM is blocked by the second polarizing beamsplitter and modulated light is reflected by the second polarizing beamsplitter through a set of inverse Fourier transform lenses. A CCD camera detects any correlation peak produced by the inverse Fourier transform lenses. A computer system downloads images to the SLM's and analyzes the correlation peaks detected by the camera. A half-wave plate can be included between both sets of SLM's and polarizing beamsplitters to allow manual adjustment of the polarization of the incident beam entering the SLM.

A primary object of the present invention is to provide an optical correlator capable of performing automated pattern recognition at high speeds.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an optical correlator that is compact and portable.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an optical correlator that is easy to initially align and maintains its alignment.

These and other advantages, features, and objects of the present invention will be more readily understood in view of the following detailed description and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention can be more readily understood in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a simplified block diagram of the optical correlator.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of an electronically addressable ferroelectric liquid crystal spatial light modulator.

FIG. 3 is simplified block diagram of the computer system used to interface with and control the optical correlator.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning to FIG. 1, a block diagram is provided of the overall optical configuration of the present optical correlator. In short, the present invention is a fully programmable Vander Lugt correlator. Two electrically addressable ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) spatial light modulators (SLM's) 16 and 26 are located at the focal planes of the Fourier transform lenses 20. The reference SLM 16 is used to input image data. The filter SLM 26 is used to spatially filter the input data for a desired target image. The image data from the reference SLM 16 is transformed by the Fourier transform lenses 20 into its spatial frequencies. The filter SLM 26 multiplies the spectral components of the image data with a pattern that extracts the desired image from the input data. The filter is designed such that its frequency response is the complex conjugate of the desired target image (i.e., the filter is the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of the desired image). The filter is generated and implemented as a binary phase-only filter (BPOF). The modulated light from the filter SLM 26 is inverse transformed by an inverse Fourier transform lens 28, resulting in the convolution of the image data with the filter pattern. An image pattern that matches the filter will produce a collimated wavefront that is focused to a bright spot in the correlation plane where the camera 32 is located. The positions of any bright spots will coincide with the locations of the matching patterns in the input image. Phase distortion (i.e., spreading of the correlation peak) is minimized since both the filter SLM 26 and the correlation plane are at the focal planes of the inverse transform lens 28. Hence, all of the correlator's processing elements are at the focal planes of the two transform lenses 20 and 28. This general configuration is sometimes referred to as a "4f correlator."

Spatial Light Modulator

FIG. 2 provides a cross-sectional view of the ferroelectric liquid crystal SLM 16, 26. This device uses a dynamic memory on a very large scale integration (VLSI) backplane to activate a liquid crystal modulator. A transparent and conductive indium oxide (ITO) layer 51 is deposited on the undersurface of the cover glass 50. This surface is then coated with an alignment layer 52. A preferred alignment material is polybutylene teraphthalate (PBT). Other alignment materials, such as polyvinyl alcohol, silicon monoxide (SiO), silicon dioxide (SiO2), and Langmuir-Blodgett films are also suitable. A metallic electrode 54 with an electrode wire 53 is mechanically bonded to the cover glass 50. This metallic electrode 54 is also electrically connected to the ITO layer 51 to produce a transparent top electrode. A smectic C* ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) layer 56 is placed within a SiO spacer 55 between the top electrode and the VLSI chip 58. The VLSI chip is bonded to a PGA socket that provides external electrical connections and mechanical stability.

The VLSI backplane consists of a two-dimensional array of conductive pads, each of which form one pixel. These conductive pads act as electrodes to apply voltage across the FLC layer. The conductive pads also serve as mirrors that output the SLM's signal by reflection, since the VLSI backplane is non-transmissive. Each pad is electrically connected to an independent dynamic memory cell within the VLSI chip. Each memory cell stores a binary bit of data (i.e., 1 or 0). Binary data is sequentially loaded by rows into the dynamic memory cells by means of an external computer and interface board, as shown in FIG. 3. A load cycle consists of writing data to each row comprising one image frame. A load cycle either writes new binary image data to the SLM or refreshes the old image data. SLM's incorporating this design have been produced by Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc., of Boulder, Colo., providing either 128128 pads or 256256 pads.

The 1's and 0's stored in each memory cell actually represent a voltage (i.e., +5 V or 0 V, respectively). These voltages are applied to the conductive pixel pad to produce an electric field between the pad and the transparent top electrode. By applying 2.5 volts to the top electrode, the electric field vectors at each pixel have equal magnitude, but the electric field vectors change direction depending on whether the data bit is a 1 or 0. The direction of the electric field vectors switches the FLC into one of two states by interacting with the polarized FLC molecule to produce either right or left handed torque on the molecule. A FLC molecule is free to rotate through small angles and will pivot about the smectic layer normal orientation (α0) until the torque, viscous, and elastic forces are equalized. This molecular rotation results in a bulk reorientation (or tilt) of the liquid crystal's optical axis. A nonlinear FLC material acts as a half-wave retarder. A half-wave retarder rotates the light's polarization by 2φ, where φ is the angle between the light's polarization and the waveplate's optic axis. Here, the polarization of the incident beam 40 is rotated by twice the tilt angle (Ψ) of the optic axis. For example, if the FLC's optic axis tilts 22 degrees about the smectic layer normal orientation, the net change of 44 degrees in the optic axis will rotate the light's polarization by 88 degrees.

Rotation of the FLC material's optic axis (which is controlled by the direction of the electric field) produces a change in the light's polarization. This change in polarization can be converted to amplitude or phase modulation depending on the orientation of the FLC layer with respect to the polarization of the incident beam 40. Binary amplitude modulation occurs when the input light enters the SLM polarized along the optic axis orientation of one of the FLC's switched states and is reflected back through an output analyzer that is cross polarized to the input light. When the incident beam's polarization is aligned with the optic axis director, the reflected beam's polarization remains unchanged since the angle between the light's polarization and the optic axis director is zero. The reflected beam 41 remains cross polarized to the output analyzer and is blocked (Off state). When the input beam's polarization is not aligned with the optic axis director, the light's polarization is rotated by 2φ, where φ=2Ψ. A portion of this light is transmitted by the output analyzer, producing an On state.

Binary phase or bipolar modulation occurs when the input light enters the device polarized along the smectic layer normal orientation. Again the reflected light 41 is analyzed by a crossed polarizer. In the bipolar case, the switched states rotate the light's polarization by 2φ about the out analyzer's axis, where φ=Ψ. Light transmitted by the output analyzer has equal amplitude but varies in phase by 180 degrees.

Both phase and amplitude modulation have certain characteristics that are useful in optical correlators. Amplitude modulation is very useful for verifying SLM operation and troubleshooting the correlator system since the image is visible. Phase modulation, on the other hand, provides better performance because it reduces various noise sources without decreasing signal power. The optical design for the correlator described herein allows use of either phase or amplitude modulation with only minor adjustments.

Optical Configuration

Returning to FIG. 1, the present invention uses polarization to modulate and direct light through the correlator. A laser diode source 10 produces a beam of coherent light that is polarized in a predetermined plane (i.e., S polarized). A first polarizing beamsplitter 12 intercepts this beam and reflects it through a half-wave plate 14 onto the reference SLM 16. The half-wave plate 14 rotates the polarization of the beam, so that the input light's polarization is aligned with the FLC's smectic layer normal for the reference SLM 16. When the input light's polarization is so aligned, the SLM serves as a bipolar or phase modulator. Alignment of the FLC layer for bipolar modulation for both the reference SLM 16 and the filter SLM 26 results in the best performance, since this type of alignment decreases the DC component, narrows the correlation peak, and reduces background noise. When an electric field is applied to the FLC material, the liquid crystal molecules are aligned with the electric field by dipole coupling. The molecule alignment has two orientations corresponding to the polarity of the applied electric field. Therefore, the FLC material acts as an active half-wave plate having a switchable optic axis. The optic axis of the FLC waveplate is symmetrically switched about its smectic layer normal by changing the polarity of the electric field across the FLC material. By switching the optic axis, the SLM rotates the polarization of the light reflected from its surface by approximately 90 degrees. The rotation occurs on a pixel by pixel basis depending on the electric field associated with any given pixel. Thus, light reflected by the SLM will be a pixel-by-pixel combination of orthogonally polarized rays corresponding to the pattern of 1's and 0's in the image stored in the SLM. In other words, the "1" pixels rotate the polarization of the incident beam by approximately 90 degrees with respect to the "0" pixels.

This rotation is used in combination with the polarizing beam splitter 12 in the present invention for binary modulation of the reflected light from the SLM. The present system employs two conventional polarized beamsplitters 12 and 22 in a combination with the reference SLM 16 and the filter SLM 26, respectively. Both are designed to reflect light that has been polarized in a predetermined plane and to transmit light polarized in a second orthogonal plane. The SLM's require that the incident beam 40 (see FIG. 2) must be normal to the backplane of the device and are very sensitive to any misalignment in this regard. The read-out beam 41 is also reflected along the same path normal to the backplane. The polarized beamsplitter allows the incident beam 40 and the reflected beam 41 to follow the same optical path to and from the SLM, and uses the change in polarization to separate the reflected beam 41 from the incident beam 40.

The light reflected by the reference SLM 16 passes back through the half-wave plate 14, which rotates its polarization to realign the polarization of the modulated light reflected from the reference SLM 16 with the polarizing beamsplitter 12. As previously discussed, only P-polarized light is transmitted by the polarized beamsplitter 12, and any S-polarized light is blocked. Therefore, only the modulated light that represents the input image stored in the reference SLM 16 reaches the Fourier transform lenses 20 and the filter SLM 26. This P-polarized beam is reflected by a mirror 18 and enters the Fourier transform lenses 20 where the beam is transformed into its spatial frequencies. The resulting beam passes through a second polarizing beamsplitter 22 that transmits only P-polarized light, and then passes through a second half-wave plate 24 that aligns the polarization of the beam with the FLC smectic layer normal.

The polarization of the light reaching the filter SLM 26 is again rotated on a pixel by pixel basis by the FLC layer, which has been programmed with the complex conjugate of the Fourier transform of desired image. The light that is modulated by the filter SLM 26 is orthogonally polarized to the incident beam, while unmodulated light is reflected with its field vector parallel to the incident beam. The reflected light passes back through the second half-wave plate 24, which rotates its polarization so that the modulated light from the filter SLM 26 becomes S-polarized. This S-polarized light reenters the second polarized beam splitter 22 and is reflected through the inverse transform lenses 28. This light signal passes through a polarizer 30 and is focused onto a CCD camera 32, which detects the correlation peak. The polarizer 30 in front of the camera 32 is used to increase the extinction ratio of the correlation-detection leg since broadband polarized beamsplitters 12, 22 have low extinction ratios when used in reflection.

The half-wave plates 14 and 24 are included in the present system largely to provide a means to manually adjust the polarization of the light entering the SLM's to precisely match the alignment axis of the FLC layer. It should be expressly understood that these components could be omitted, provided the remainder of the correlator is configured so that light exiting the polarizing beamsplitters 12 and 22 is precisely polarized to match the alignment axis of the FLC layer in their respective SLM's.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the following components were used:

______________________________________Fourier transform lenses 20             Melles Griot #01 LAO 239Inverse transform lenses 28             Melles Griot #01 LAO 167Half-wave plates 14, 24             Meadowlark #NRH-1.0-0670Polarizing beamsplitters 12, 22             Meadowlark #BB2-1.0-Type IIMirror 18         Newport #10D20ER.2Laser Diode 10    Melles Griot #56 DLL 645Polarizer 30      Meadowlark #DP-0.5-HN42CCD camera 32     Sony XC-77RR______________________________________
Correlator Electronics and Interface

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing the complete system used to control and interface with the optical correlator from FIG. 1. The personal computer 60 is preferably an IBM-compatible system with a 386DX or 486DX processor, at least 2 MB of RAM, a hard disk, keyboard, display (e.g., VGA color monitor), and a number of expansion slots connected to the bus. A data I/O board (National Instruments Corp. #PC-DIO-96) is inserted into one expansion slot and a controller board is inserted into a second expansion slot to serve as a driver 61 to download images through the SLM interface board 65 to the reference SLM 16 and the filter SLM 26. The data I/O board is used to transfer data and commands from the processor to the controller board, and to generate system interrupts in the personal computer 60. The controller board stores up to 512 reference and filter images, downloads these images to the SLM's, modulates the laser 10, and triggers the camera 32.

The operating current for the laser diode 10 shown in FIG. 1 is controlled by a laser diode driver 64 (Melles Griot #06 DLD 201). The laser diode driver 64 is, in turn, controlled by the computer through the SLM driver boards 61 to activate the laser 10 when the correlator is in operation.

A video frame grabber board 62 is inserted into a third expansion slot in the PC. For example, a Cortex-I Video Frame Grabber board manufactured by Imagenation Corp. of Vancouver, Wash., can be used for this purpose. This card can capture and store up to four low-resolution (243256 pixels) gray-scale images in its on-board RAM from the CCD camera 32.

The CCD camera 32 shown in FIG. 1 is interfaced to an external camera control unit 63 shown in FIG. 3. The control unit 63 sets the shutter speed for the camera and allows the camera to be shuttered by an external asynchronous trigger generated by the frame grabber board 62 under the control of the personal computer system 60.

The personal computer includes software to control all aspects of the operation of the optical correlator. The software can download images to the SLM's, control system timing, track errors, and capture and store correlation images uploaded from the camera. The computer can be used to generate filter images by computing the phase conjugate of the Fourier transform for a desired target image. As many as 512 different reference and filter images for the SLM's can be downloaded through the data I/O board to memory residing on the SLM control board. The computer can also dynamically adjust the effective resolution of the SLM's by changing the resolution of the images that are downloaded. With a 256256 SLM, the maximum possible resolution is 256256 pixels. However, the computer can "bin" together adjacent pixels to effect various lower resolutions such as 128128. Once the correlator is running, the stored images are downloaded in the SLM devices. At the appropriate time, the camera is triggered, the laser is enabled, and the correlation image is sent from the camera to the frame grabber board. This correlation image is then stored on the computer's hard disk. The software allows the user to control which SLM images are used, how long the laser is modulated, and when the camera is triggered.

The computer can also be used for preprocessing or filtering of reference images, and for subsequent processing of the correlation images retrieved by the frame grabber board. For example, the computer can be programmed to track motion of correlation peaks over time in the case of moving targets. The computer can also implement a filter image selection algorithm to intelligently select subsequent filter images to be downloaded to the filter SLM 26 based on the correlation results from previous filter images. This could be implemented by creating a tree structure of filter images through which the computer can progressively navigate to identify an unknown target.

The above disclosure sets forth a number of embodiments of the present invention. Other arrangements or embodiments, not precisely set forth, could be practiced under the teachings of the present invention and as set forth in the following claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4357676 *Sep 8, 1980Nov 2, 1982Ampex CorporationFrequency multiplexed joint transform correlator system
US4695973 *Oct 22, 1985Sep 22, 1987The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Air ForceReal-time programmable optical correlator
US4815035 *Apr 8, 1986Mar 21, 1989Trw Inc.Scrolling liquid crystal spatial light modulator
US4832447 *Dec 4, 1987May 23, 1989Board Of Trustees Operating Michigan State UniversityJoint transform image correlation using a nonlinear spatial light modulator at the fourier plane
US4941735 *Mar 2, 1989Jul 17, 1990University Of Colorado Foundation, Inc.Optically addressable spatial light modulator
US5029220 *Jul 31, 1990Jul 2, 1991The United States Of America As Represented By The Administrator Of The National Aeronautics And Space AdministrationOptical joint correlator for real-time image tracking and retinal surgery
US5050220 *Jul 24, 1990Sep 17, 1991The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The NavyOptical fingerprint correlator
US5073010 *May 11, 1990Dec 17, 1991University Of Colorado Foundation, Inc.Optically addressable spatial light modulator having a distorted helix ferroelectric liquid crystal member
US5086483 *Aug 31, 1989Feb 4, 1992The Boeing CompanyOptical processor including electronic processing array
US5150228 *Nov 25, 1991Sep 22, 1992The United States Of America As Represented By The Administrator Of The National Aeronautics And Space AdministrationReal-time edge-enhanced optical correlator
US5150229 *Sep 7, 1989Sep 22, 1992Seiko Instruments Inc.Optical correlator
US5177628 *Apr 24, 1990Jan 5, 1993The University Of Colorado Foundation, Inc.Self-powered optically addressed spatial light modulator
US5178445 *Jun 9, 1989Jan 12, 1993Garrett ModdelOptically addressed spatial light modulator
US5221989 *Nov 13, 1991Jun 22, 1993Northrop CorporationLongitudinal plzt spatial light modulator
US5363455 *Jan 28, 1993Nov 8, 1994Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.Optical information processor
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5535029 *Jan 12, 1995Jul 9, 1996The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Air ForceOptical signal processor
US5659637 *Jun 20, 1996Aug 19, 1997Optical Corporation Of AmericaVander lugt optical correlator on a printed circuit board
US5680460 *Aug 8, 1995Oct 21, 1997Mytec Technologies, Inc.Biometric controlled key generation
US5712912 *Jul 28, 1995Jan 27, 1998Mytec Technologies Inc.Method and apparatus for securely handling a personal identification number or cryptographic key using biometric techniques
US5740276 *Jul 27, 1995Apr 14, 1998Mytec Technologies Inc.Holographic method for encrypting and decrypting information using a fingerprint
US5818525 *Jun 17, 1996Oct 6, 1998Loral Fairchild Corp.RGB image correction using compressed flat illuminated files and a simple one or two point correction algorithm
US5832091 *Mar 14, 1996Nov 3, 1998Mytec Technologies Inc.Fingerprint controlled public key cryptographic system
US5883743 *Jan 31, 1996Mar 16, 1999Corning Oca CorporationVander-Lugt correlator converting to joint-transform correlator
US6005985 *Jul 29, 1997Dec 21, 1999Lockheed Martin CorporationPost-processing system for optical correlators
US6080994 *Jul 30, 1998Jun 27, 2000Litton Systems, Inc.High output reflective optical correlator having a folded optical axis using ferro-electric liquid crystal spatial light modulators
US6100945 *Feb 17, 1999Aug 8, 2000Displaytech, Inc.Compensator arrangements for a continuously viewable, DC field-balanced, reflective, ferroelectric liquid crystal display system
US6163403 *Jul 30, 1998Dec 19, 2000Litton Systems, Inc.High output reflective optical correlator having a folded optical axis using grayscale spatial light modulators
US6219794Oct 8, 1997Apr 17, 2001Mytec Technologies, Inc.Method for secure key management using a biometric
US6246782Jun 6, 1997Jun 12, 2001Lockheed Martin CorporationSystem for automated detection of cancerous masses in mammograms
US6369933 *Apr 3, 2000Apr 9, 2002Display Tech, IncOptical correlator having multiple active components formed on a single integrated circuit
US6424449Apr 19, 2000Jul 23, 2002Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.Optical information processing apparatus for image processing using a reflection type spatial light modulator
US6445822 *Jun 4, 1999Sep 3, 2002Look Dynamics, Inc.Search method and apparatus for locating digitally stored content, such as visual images, music and sounds, text, or software, in storage devices on a computer network
US6580078 *Apr 6, 2001Jun 17, 2003Displaytech, Inc.Ferroelectric liquid crystal infrared chopper
US6731819 *May 19, 2000May 4, 2004Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.Optical information processing apparatus capable of various types of filtering and image processing
US6804412 *Dec 11, 1998Oct 12, 2004Cambridge Correlators LimitedOptical correlator
US7526100 *Apr 22, 2004Apr 28, 2009Advanced Optical Systems, Inc.System for processing and recognizing objects in images
US7734102Nov 8, 2005Jun 8, 2010Optosecurity Inc.Method and system for screening cargo containers
US7899232May 11, 2007Mar 1, 2011Optosecurity Inc.Method and apparatus for providing threat image projection (TIP) in a luggage screening system, and luggage screening system implementing same
US7988297Oct 19, 2007Aug 2, 2011Look Dynamics, Inc.Non-rigidly coupled, overlapping, non-feedback, optical systems for spatial filtering of fourier transform optical patterns and image shape content characterization
US7991242May 11, 2006Aug 2, 2011Optosecurity Inc.Apparatus, method and system for screening receptacles and persons, having image distortion correction functionality
US8188434May 29, 2009May 29, 2012Raytheon CompanySystems and methods for thermal spectral generation, projection and correlation
US8494210Mar 30, 2007Jul 23, 2013Optosecurity Inc.User interface for use in security screening providing image enhancement capabilities and apparatus for implementing same
EP1420322A2 *Dec 11, 1998May 19, 2004Cambridge Correlators LimitedOptical correlator
WO1997001832A1 *Jun 27, 1996Jan 16, 1997Peter Samuel AthertonA method of reproducing information
WO1997005594A1 *Jun 3, 1996Feb 13, 1997Mytec Technologies IncHolographic method for encrypting and decrypting information using a fingerprint
WO1999031563A1 *Dec 11, 1998Jun 24, 1999Univ Cambridge TechOptical correlator
WO2000007082A1 *Jul 29, 1999Feb 10, 2000Litton Systems IncHigh output reflective optical correlator having a folded optical axis using ferro-electric liquid crystal spatial light modulators
WO2002094117A1 *May 23, 2002Nov 28, 2002David Mortimer BudgettApparatus and method for selectively irradiating a surface
Classifications
U.S. Classification250/550, 359/561
International ClassificationG06K9/74, G02B27/28, G06E3/00
Cooperative ClassificationG02B27/288, G06K9/74, G06E3/005
European ClassificationG06K9/74, G02B27/28F, G06E3/00A2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 22, 2007SULPSurcharge for late payment
Year of fee payment: 11
Mar 22, 2007FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 12
Dec 6, 2006REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Nov 22, 2002FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Oct 8, 1998FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Nov 13, 1996ASAssignment
Owner name: LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, MARYLAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MARTIN MARIETTA CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:008215/0859
Effective date: 19960318
Apr 12, 1994ASAssignment
Owner name: MARTIN MARIETTA CORPORATION, MARYLAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SIMON, DARREN M.;SERATI, STEVEN A.;REEL/FRAME:006963/0268
Effective date: 19940411